Posted by: hdemott | May 11, 2010

E-Mail Bankruptcy: Because The Mail Never Stops

This morning, Fred Wilson declared e-mail bankruptcy on his blog.

He’s not the first and he won’t be the last. (see here and here)

What this immediately reminded me of was the great Seinfeld episode where Newman explains why postal workers go, well, postal:

See here on youtube.

What is amazing about these scenarios is that it is a case of winning the battle but perhaps losing the war. Fred has done a phenomenal job living what he preaches and invests in – you can track him virtually everywhere he goes through his blog, his twitter feed, his foursquare check-in’s etc…

Of course the problem with living like this is that, like Lindsay Lohan, you become public property.

and once you are deemed public property, everyone believes they have the right to have a conversation with you – on your blog, on your twitter stream, and on your e-mail. To make matters worse – Fred can actually do things for people – he has a fund to invest – and while his activities have made him a far smarter investor in the social media space – and certainly raised not only his profile and that of USV – but the NY Tech scene as well – he is now a celeb with a published phone number, e-mail address – heck I’m sure I could find his house if I searched through all of the data he and his family (they’re all bloggers) have put out there over the years.

Some people might not have an issue with this – and are willing to put up with the occasional bout of e-mail bankruptcy for the benefits that internet celebrity bring – but as he points out on his blog – perhaps the biggest ocst is the ability to deal with the firehose of information coming at you day and night.

On my end, I probably get perhaps 400 e-mails per day – most of them research reports from Wall Street. I get a similar amount of RSS feeds to satisfy my curiosities. If I start adding in Bloomberg messages and IM’s, I am well over 2,000 messages per day (I ignore almost all Bloomberg messages as they are price runs from traders which I can easily search through for the info I need) but I probably do process 1,000 pieces of info per day – and it is hard. Most of these are pushed to me and require little more than assimilation and thought on my part – but imagine 1,000 pieces of information looking for a personalized response.  That becomes your job – which isn’t at all efficient.

Perhaps the next wave of social media services will be to filter out the noise – and really get to what is important to you that day – with filtering capabilities that can be changed real time and on the fly. Color coding e-mails in g-mail is certainly one way to deal with things – as are tags there – but how do you deal with the other stuff, the tweets, the RSS’s, the phone calls, the social buying offers?

The mail never stops!


  1. Email bankruptcy is rarely a fix just like debt bankruptcy is rarely a fix – just a stop gap.

    The solution is to better manage your information. I setup multiple email accounts in TrulyMail and have each going into a different inbox. Those that I can ignore, if I am too busy, I do. I don’t have to work through good messages with bad messages. I just delete the entire inbox for those email accounts which are not critical.

    An example would be those Bloomberg prices. If you’re too busy, skip that inbox (or delete it altogether) but to ‘throw the baby out with the bathwater’ would seem to cause more problems and problems take time to fix. So, better to manage things properly rather than just giving up.

  2. I’ve thought about doing a startup that lets you set rules for charging people who email you (mom = free, unknown = 10 cents, priceline = $2). the great part is that it’d be spam-free. not sure the market is out there though.

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